With a little bit of inventive marketing and a dab of patchouli, Drag City might just be able to sell Royal Trux to the H.O.R.D.E. hordes this year. On the band's new Pound for Pound, the Rolling Stones remain the primary influence on guitarist Neil Hagerty and singer Jennifer Herrema--"Platinum Tips" could be a Sticky Fingers outtake and "Small Thief" dips into the swaggering NYC disco of Some Girls. But thanks to a pair of heavily grooving percussionists, Chris Pyle and Ken Nasta, the album is distinguished by a surprising organic jamminess. From the Santana-esque percussion breakdown at the close of "Dr. Gone" to Hagerty's denatured blues extrapolations on "Deep Country Sorcerer," the Trux have never seemed more at ease with the simple pleasures of extended hip shaking. But while Pound for Pound may be the most conventional Royal Trux recording since 1993's Cats and Dogs, the group has hardly become predictable. Earlier this year they released The Radio Video EP, which kicks off with "The Inside Game," a loving ode to basketball, but soon degenerates into the inelegantly wheezed "Dirty Headlines" ("You're so rank / You probably even lick your own skank"). Herrema and Hagerty have maintained an unsettling undercurrent of weirdness and contempt throughout their 13-year career--and if that's not a worthy accomplishment in and of itself, rock music really must be dead. Edith Frost opens. Friday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Phil Knott.